Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Faren Joy Fowler

Rosemary Cooke spent the first five years of her life joined at the hip with her beloved sister Fern.  One day, Rosemary is sent away to her grandparent's house for three weeks only to be returned to a different house with no explanation. But as distressing as this might be for a five-year-old, the worst is yet to come:  Rosemary cannot find Fern anywhere.  What happened to her sister?  Why will no one in her family speak Fern's name?  Why is her older brother so angry all the time?  The once motor-mouthed child withdraws deeper and deeper into herself as her family begins to self-destruct around her.

Fast forward almost ten years and we find Rosemary in college at the University of California, Davis.  She hasn't thought about Fern in ages.  She barely even thinks about her brother Lowell who disappeared at the age of 18 and became what amounts to a domestic terrorist.  Rosemary is pulled into the path of an unusual girl named Harlow and suddenly many things from her past return to her all at once.  Will she be able to find any answers about Fern?  Will Lowell return even for the briefest of moments? Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an interesting look at the institution of family, scientific experimentation and self identity.